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Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat the International Terrorist Network    by Benjamin Netanyahu order for
Fighting Terrorism
by Benjamin Netanyahu
Order:  USA  Can
Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2001 (1995)
Hardcover, Paperback

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Wesley Williamson

Fighting Terrorism was re-issued in 2001 with a Foreword consisting of the address given by Benjamin Netanyahu to the United States Congress on September 20, 2001, very shortly after the suicidal terrorist attacks which shocked the world and galvanised the U.S. into decisive military action. It summarises, in succint but vigorous language, the essential nature of terrorism, and the necessary moral attitudes and physical actions that must be taken to safeguard the world from a new barbarism.'What is at stake today is nothing less than the survival of our civilisation.'

'Each one of us today understands that we are all targets, that our cities are vulnerable, and that our values are hated with an unmatched fanaticism that seeks to destroy our societies and our way of life.'
^bc]Netanyahu makes the important point that international terrorism cannot exist without the support of sovereign states, such as Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. He points out that the growth of the terrorist network can be linked directly to the establishment of clerical Islamic states. One such was established first in Iran, and then, ironically with the aid of the U.S., by the mujahdeen, in Afghanistan, where the defeat of the Russians was seen as the certain victory of faithful Moslems over all unbelievers.

Netanyahu makes an interesting comparison between Islamic militarism and the fight against communism. 'Both movements pursued irrational goals, but the Communists at least pursued theirs in a rational way. Any time they had to choose between ideology and their own survival ... they backed off and chose survival.' The difference is that the terrorists 'pursue an irrational ideology irrationally -- with no apparent regard for human life, neither their own lives nor the lives of their enemies.' Nor, of course, do they distinguish between civilians and combatants, old or young, men, women or children. This has a terrifying corollary; a fanatical Islamic leadership could unleash the horrors of nuclear war without regard to consequences.

Another reason for emphasizing the Islamic terrorist threat (apart from its culpability in the September 11 tragedy) is that historically, unlike other religions, Islam was established primarily by conquest. Until decisively stopped by Charles Martel at Tours it might have overrun Western Europe. Despite its apologists, the spread of Islam by conquest and the jihad against enemies is known to be part of the teachings of many mullahs throughout the Muslim communities of the world.

Although as an Israeli Netanyahu is naturally biased against the Arab states, he does in fact discuss in fair detail the other terrorist organizations in the world which must be considered equally guilty and must also be eradicated. Indeed he emphasizes the absolute necessity of NOT distinguishing between terrorist acts by the motives of the terrorists or your personal agreement with their professed goals, though equally naturally he does not refer to the terrorist acts of the Stern Gang and other Jewish groups against the British in pre-Israel Palestine. But he correctly repeats again and again, 'Nothing justifies terrorism. Nothing!'

He emphasises one further point. 'Today the terrorists have the will to destroy us but not the power. There is no doubt that we have the power to crush them. Now we must also show that we have the will. Once any part of the terror network acquires nuclear weapons, this equation will fundamentally change -- and with it the course of human affairs.' This question of will - the will to continue on after limited success, against the pressures perhaps of colleagues and allies, and the hysterics of the media, and to struggle on through adversity to the bitter end - is very relevant, particularly now.

The reissue of Fighting Terrorism is timely indeed. The Foreword at least should be required reading by every legislator in Canada. I can only hope that it already is in the United States.

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